Alicia took back her first impression of John. He was an interesting fellow and she quite enjoyed watching his naivete. And dare she even say that she found him cute? Well, she was always of the mindset that personality was a big factor in attractiveness. She decided that after finals and the stress of school was over for the year, she would ask him out for a coffee. But before that could happen, he ended up appearing at her workplace as a new worker.
Though John was good at picking up new skills, it seemed that he had absolutely no social awareness. It amused her greatly whenever anyone tried to flirt with him, only to be met with an impenetrable wall of denseness. She wondered if maybe he was homeschooled.
“How were your finals?” He asked, making conversation while there were no customers around. It was strange, she thought, how he had suddenly become interested in her as of late. But it didn’t feel like a romantic sort of interest. Rather it was just plain old curiosity. Ah, what a poor sheltered child he must have been to be curious about her boring old life.
“Easy peasy. I got the results back for most of them and I passed with flying colors.” She replied. After all, she had spent the last month cramming for all her tests. She didn’t pay all that money for college just to slack off. No, siree. She was going to graduate with top grades, get a good job and eventually become a rich businesswoman. “What about you?”
“I also passed all my exams. The subject matter wasn’t too difficult.” He said.
“Then we should go out to celebrate after work.” She grinned. She knew she was being too vague. After watching several failed attempts from others who have asked him out, she knew that she would have to be specific about it being a romantic endeavor. But for now, she was satisfied with just hanging out.
“Go out… like for a drink?” He asked in confusion. She couldn’t help but snicker and remember that he was also confused the first time when he invited her for a drink.
“Sure. A drink, a meal. Whatever. Unless you already have plans.” She had forgotten that unlike her, he did have other friends to hang out with. Wow, that sounded pathetic.
“I don’t have plans.” She noticed some hesitance in his reply. She didn’t want to pressure the poor guy.
“You can say no.” She chuckled. It’s not like she was hell-bent on getting into a relationship since she was going to be busy with school come fall anyway. She just figured it would be nice. But there were plenty of other fish in the sea if things didn’t pan out with John. He seemed a little surprised at her words and possibly worried that he offended her.
“No, it’s a good idea. What did you have in mind?” John asked. Alicia pondered over his question for a bit before asking how old he was. He paused at her question and looked nervous for some reason.
“I’m only asking to rule out any places. We shouldn’t go to a bar if you’re not old enough to drink alcohol, right?” She couldn’t help but raise a brow at him.
“O-oh, right.” He laughed sheepishly. “It’s alright. I’m twenty-one.”
“I know it might not seem like it, but I pride myself in being a goody-two-shoes and I’m not interested in breaking any laws. So that had better not be a lie.” Alicia said sternly but then laughed. She honestly didn’t believe he would be the sort of person to do such a thing. “Then Erin’s Pub on the corner of 5th and Hyde? Let’s say eight?”
“Sure.” He agreed, his hesitancy completely gone.
“Great. I’ll meet you there.” Alicia patted herself on the back. That went much smoother than she expected.
When they finished work for the day, they said their goodbyes and went on their way until their gettogether later that night. Entering her apartment, kicking off her shoes, and plopping down onto her couch, Alicia briefly pondered over what she should wear. It was a casual hangout and she didn’t expect John to be someone who really cared about fashion. But maybe it was a good way to get his attention?
No. Scratch that. There were plenty of attractive girls who came in the coffee house and even the provocatively dressed ones didn’t catch his eye. Maybe he wasn’t into girls, she cupped her chin, deep in thought. This would be all moot point if he was into guys, or perhaps ace. Well, she supposed it would be nice just to have a friend. She’d just have to wait to see where the pieces fell.
She sighed and pulled herself from the couch, going to the bathroom to wash up. It was fine at work but being home alone, the coffee smell reminded her too much of her childhood. Her mother had always made coffee for her father every morning and would occasionally sneak some extra sweet, milky coffee for her. Happier, more ignorant times.
When she was done with her shower, she checked her phone and saw that she had a missed call and had a message. She frowned when she saw who it was from. Dismissing the notifications, she tossed her phone away onto her bed and went to her closet to find something to wear. A nice blouse and jeans would suffice.
When she arrived at the pub at 7:50PM, she was pleasantly surprised to see him already waiting there. She was always made fun of by her peers for her Type A personality and her need to be punctual, that she felt extra appreciative of his consideration.
“Hey, you didn’t wait long did you?” She jogged over to him.
“I only arrived 5 minutes ago.” He checked his watch. “I learned that one should always arrive 15 minutes early to appointments or meetings.” He said.
“Oh my god, marry me.” She laughed, his confounded expression spurring her laughter more. They entered the pub and found a comfortable booth in the corner. “I’m not much of a drinker and I mainly picked this place because they have some comforting meals here. But feel free to drink yourself silly. I’ll make sure you get a ride home if you need one.” She said as she pulled out the menu that was tucked inside the condiment holder on the table. She already knew what she was getting so she held out the menu to him.
Alicia watched him as he looked over the menu, contemplation written all over his face.
“I recommend the lamb stew. I know the weather is a bit warm for it, but it’s really good.” She said, giving him some assistance. “As for drinks, is there any sort of flavor profile you like? Something creamy? Citrus-y?”
“I don’t have any preference. Honestly, I’ve never had alcohol before.” He admitted. She couldn’t say that she was surprised. He definitely seemed more of the straight and narrow type than she did, but with him just simply being more of a good, nice boy type rather than her petty vindictiveness. She suddenly remembered the message she received earlier and muttered that maybe she would get a drink.
“I’ll order some of the ones I like for you to try and we can go from there.” She grinned before getting up. “So are you good with stew?” John nodded so she went on her way over to the bar and started talking to the bartender, an older woman named Erin who ran the pub with her husband. It wasn’t incredibly busy yet since 8PM was early for a lot of the students to get smashed, but Alicia made sure to point out her table to make things easier. After placing her order, she returned to the table eager to learn more about her companion.
“Are you friends with the bartender?” John asked, taking Alicia by surprise considering that Erin was old enough to be her mother and then some.
“She’s a bit like a motherly figure, I guess.” Alicia chuckled. “How about you? You seem to have a lot of friends. Never went out drinking with them?”
“They’ve invited me. I just never participated.” He said, as if it wasn’t anything peculiar at all.
“Oh?” Alicia’s eyes lit up in anticipation. That meant that she was special in some sort of way, right? Since he accepted her invitation. But before she could dig any further, Erin’s husband came by with their food and several drinks. The two thanked the man and he nodded before heading back into the kitchen.
“First up is a mojito.” Alicia said as she held up the glass. “Cheers to a year well done!” She laughed when it took him a second to realize what was going on. He belatedly picked up his glass and clinked it against hers. She decided to go with a light cocktail to ease him into the burn of his first alcoholic drink. She watched as he took a sip to gauge his reaction. His expression was unexpectedly positive. She’d never seen anyone actually enjoy their first taste of alcohol. “How is it?” She asked.
“I like it.” He replied, eyes bright like a child who had their first taste of candy. She was flabbergasted when he then proceeded to down the whole glass.
“Well, there’s more where that came from. But you should probably eat first. The food will help absorb some of that alcohol so you don’t get wasted too soon.” As much as she was curious about what sort of drunk John would be, at the rate he was going, she at least wanted to enjoy her meal first.
“You seem very knowledgeable about this.” He said as he eyed the next drink waiting for him.
“It’s more like I’ve been here around drunk people enough that I know, rather than it being from experience. I actually worked here for a bit last year when Erin’s husband was hospitalized for some time.” She revealed. The nightly hours had worked out well with her class schedule and coffee house job, so she gladly took the offer when Erin expressed that she needed help.
“I’ve noticed that you’re a pretty diligent worker. You have the most hours out of the employees at the coffee house.” He remarked, catching her attention again. Though it was perfectly normal to take notice of your coworkers’ work schedule, especially the ones you liked or didn’t like, she couldn’t help but think that maybe he was interested in her.
“You don’t have a choice when you need the money, right?” She poked at the chunks in her stew. She really didn’t want to be ruminating about her life thus far, but she had been in a sour mood since that man tried to contact her, and she couldn’t help it. “I’ve been working since I was a teenager. Due to some circumstances, I took a break between graduating high school and going to college so scholarships were harder to come by.” Annoyed by the subject matter, she ended up chugging her own drink.
The two ate their meal, gossiped about their professors, and talked about their plans for the next school year. It was going to be Alicia’s final year and she was hoping to find an internship before graduation so that she could have a job lined up right afterwards. She ordered a few more rounds of drinks and soon enough, she was starting to feel a buzz. John, on the other hand, despite going through his drinks one after another, looked unfazed.
“How are you not drunk?” Alicia narrowed her eyes at him. If she was counting correctly, they had at least three cocktails and five shots each. It was much more than she would drink but John was a deceptively heavy-weight drinker and she hadn’t realized she was going along with him. She groaned and put her head down on the table, almost knocking over some empty glasses in the process.
Alicia hadn’t even managed to woo him yet and she was already drunk. Just her luck.
John was well aware of the effects of alcohol on the average human being from his studies back at home. It was noted that his kind was immune to the effects of alcohol, so with the knowledge that it was safe for him to consume, he decided to try it to satiate his curiosity. To his surprise, he found that he enjoyed the flavor of it. It was almost addictive and he wondered if it was the same reason why so many humans enjoyed partaking in it—at the cost of becoming belligerent fools.
But belligerent fool, Alicia was not. Rather, she was a tired and apologetic mess.
“I’m really sorry about this.” She slurred for the umpteenth time as they stumbled through her apartment halls. He tried his best to support her, with her arm slung around his shoulders and his hand on her waist. But she was such a deadweight at his side that he thought it probably would have been easier to just carry her to begin with.
He was glad that Erin told him that sending her home with a rideshare service was a bad idea. When he suggested it, Erin expressed distrust in having Alicia in a car alone with a stranger and that she might have trouble getting into her home in her state. So she requested that he accompany her, adding that she trusted Alicia’s judgment and believed he would be trustworthy enough to get her home unscathed.
Seeing Alicia fumble through her keys and repeatedly failing to get any of them into the lock, he took them from her and tried them all until he got the right one. They entered the apartment into a narrow foyer and he felt around the walls on either side of them for a light switch. He wanted to at least see to it that she was safely laid down before leaving.
“Oh, I got it.” She said when she noticed him trying to find the light. She mumbled about the stupid placement before withdrawing from his support and attempting to get the switch that was around the corner. He watched her shaky footsteps warily. She successfully flipped the switch only to trip over a pair of shoes seconds after.
Startled, John grabbed Alicia’s arm in hopes of preventing her from falling. But with her having barely any control over her body, she collided into him and her head slammed into his chin. The impact sent him careening backwards into the door. The two bodies slid to the floor in pain.
No amount of deliciousness was worth this much trouble, John decided. And at this point, he was 99.9% certain that she was human. He couldn’t imagine that any other alien race—with the intelligence and knowledge to come to earth—would drink themselves into such a state.
Knocked out cold from her drunken stupor and the bump on her head, John gathered Alicia up into his arms and walked her over to the couch where he laid her down in as comfortable of a position as he could. Grabbing one of the couch pillows, he tucked it behind her head, making sure she was turned to the side in case she vomited. One of his classmates told him he had nearly died from aspirating vomit once when drunk. Luckily there was someone there to help.
What a dilemma he was in. He had planned on leaving. All of his necessities were at home. But now he was too worried that it wasn’t safe enough to leave her alone. He came to earth to study, not to murder humans. Not that he was murdering anyone… nor was it technically his fault that she was drunk. But still, he’d feel responsible.
He plopped himself down in a chair perpendicular to the couch and eyed the sleeping woman. She looked like she was sleeping peacefully. She would be fine… right? He checked his watch before fishing for the chain around his neck and grabbed the ring that dangled at its end. It was morning where she was at right now.
“Suri.” He spoke quietly.
“What is it, Rah?” Came a reply almost immediately, followed by a yawn.
“The woman I told you about—”
“The one who thought I was your wife?” She laughed.
“I thought you erased her memory? What’s up?” She sounded almost entertained by his troubles. Suri, his sister, who was sent to Earth with him, was just as inquisitive, but exponentially more outgoing than he was. She often found great interest in social interactions, which proved to be an invaluable help to him when he had any issues. So he thought it would be best to contact her.
“I did, but… It seemed her interest in me didn’t wane, so I was worried that the memory gun didn’t work and that there was an off chance she could be of another alien race sent here like we were.” He explained. There was a light snorting sound followed by some coughing in response.
“Sorry about that.” She said, “Just choked on some tea for a bit there. So what did you do?”
“I decided to observe her for a bit. I’m fairly certain that she’s human but I still can’t figure out why she’s been keeping her eye on me.”
The same snorting noise came in response again, but this time, followed by audible laughter. John frowned, confused by his sister’s response, but continued. “She invited me out for a meal and some drinks. She’s currently incapacitated from alcohol consumption and I’m not sure if it will be safe for me to leave her alone. I made sure she’s propped onto her side but I still have concerns. I wanted to check in with you to see if you had some advice.”
“Oh, Brother dearest…” She chuckled. “Go home. She will be fine. You sound like you’ve had a long day. If you’re still worried, you can always check up on her in the morning. And if she ends up dead, oh well. Not our problem.”
“Suri…” John said warningly.
“I kid. Seriously. Just leave her a glass of water and go home. If that’s all, I have to go. I have something called a ‘bridal shower’ to attend to and I have to get ready.”
“Alright…” John said, with some hesitancy.
Following Suri’s advice, he went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and placed it on the coffee table beside the couch. He surveyed Alicia a final time. She was breathing at a normal rate and her positioning was fine. Perhaps Suri was right and there was no cause for concern. Despite being wary of Alicia, he did enjoy her company and appreciated their commonality in the joys of learning. So it would be a sad thing if anything were to happen to her.
When morning came, John found himself in front of Alicia’s door with coffee in hand. It was supposed to help with hangovers, according to his resident advisor. He knocked on the door and waited, but there was no response even after a couple of minutes. John considered himself to be fairly patient, but at the moment, he felt incredibly nervous about the reason why she wouldn’t be able to come to the door. As he went to knock again, the door flung open and a flustered and disheveled Alicia appeared.
Relief washed over him when he saw that she was indeed okay, like his sister said she would be. Alicia cleared her throat and straightened herself before stepping off to the side.
“John, come in.” She said and raised her arm to gesture for him to enter.
He entered the apartment and took notice of the pairs of shoes lined up along the foyer, a pair of brown ankle boots being the culprit of last night’s debacle. His eyes shifted over to Alicia’s bare feet. ‘A shoes off home,’ He concluded. He suddenly felt bad about wearing his shoes inside the apartment the night before. The flurry of events had prevented him from taking the time to survey the new surroundings.
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that if it makes you uncomfortable,” Alicia said, noticing his downward gaze. But John shook his head and slipped his sneakers off. The two entered the living area and Alicia gestured to the couch, the pillows neatly fluffed and put back to their original positions. “Make yourself comfortable. Would you like anything to drink? Water, tea, coffee…” She trailed off when she noticed the coffee in his hand. “Oh, it looks like you already have some.”
“Uh, no. This is for you.” He said before holding out the cup to her. “I ran into my RA this morning and we chatted for a bit. She said that this might help make you feel better.” He explained.
“O-oh. Thank you.” She took the cup from him.
John was fascinated by the rosy glow on her cheeks. He remembered that she was flushed last night as well and wondered if it was a prolonged effect from the alcohol. He watched Alicia shuffle off into the kitchen presumably to get a drink for him. He took a seat on the couch and let his eyes wander around the apartment. It was small, but neat and tidy. It appeared to be a one-bedroom apartment, which he found surprising. He would have thought that she would rent a studio instead since it would be cheaper.
Alicia returned and placed a cup of tea down along with a plate of cookies.
“I feel like a grandma serving you tea and cookies.” She grimaced. “But I’m really, really sorry about last night. I gave you a lot of trouble.” She avoided his gaze and nervously tucked her hair behind her ear. “How embarrassing.” She laughed lightly.
“It’s okay. It was,” He paused as if trying to find the right words. “An interesting experience?” Alicia sighed and sat down in the chair, clearly not pleased by the response.
“I’ll buy you lunch to make up for it… How’s your chin?” She asked and raised a hand up to her head where she had literally headbutted him. “God… how embarrassing…” He heard her mutter under her breath.
John raised a hand to his chin and rubbed it. It was a little sore but not noticeable unless he touched it. When he checked that morning, there didn’t appear to be a bump or any bruising.
“It’s fine.” He said. “You remember everything? My friends tell me they never remember anything when they’re drunk.”
“Unfortunately.” She said dryly. “This would be less mortifying if I didn’t remember. I usually fall asleep before I ever manage to drink myself into oblivion.”
“You were quite tired.” John laughed. His experience with the drunk Alicia was a far cry from what he had learned and heard from others. So it really was a valuable experience. Not all drunks were loud and rowdy, he had noted when he got home.
“Well, I’m glad that you’re taking all of this so well. You even came to check up on me. I appreciate it. It’s hard to come by good people.” She sipped on the coffee that he brought her before munching on one of the cookies on the table. It reminded him that she had brought him a drink and it would be rude to leave it untouched. “Which reminds me, I had a wild dream last night where you were an alien—”
A loud strangled noise came from John as he attempted to keep the tea in his mouth and off of her furniture, causing the liquid to go down the wrong pipe. He coughed sporadically and Alicia jumped up to pat him on the back, asking in concern if he was okay and if the tea was bad.
He really couldn’t afford to let his guard down around her.